Internships are one of the most valuable forms of learning, provided you approach it the right way. From the job search process to eventually performing the job, there are many things you should take note to ensure that your experience is a fulfilling and enriching one.

Sounds daunting? Don’t worry, we have summarized the entire process into a bite-size guide for you and we hope this will help you in your journey.

Chapter 1: Before searching for Internships

Before you embark on your search for startup internships, it is important to ask yourself a few questions:

  • What vertical or industry are you passionate about?
  • What roles would you like to take on?

These questions will help you to filter out internships that are unsuitable from the get-go. It is of paramount importance that you find a company that has a product or is in the niche you are passionate about.

People might argue that passion is overrated and that any company would do as long as you are able to learn and have a fulfilling experience.

However, without passion, chances are you will not be motivated to go the extra mile or take the extra step to further your learning. At a typical company, you would find yourself knocking off on time. However, at a company where its products are what you are passionate about, you would not mind working a little harder and knocking off a little later.

This little extra effort that you put in every day, do not underestimate it. Day by day, month by month, it will compound and it will eventually contribute tremendously to your learning. Hence, find an internship you are passionate about and crush it!

Chapter 2: Where to search for internships

There are a number of platforms available online that helps to aggregate startup internship opportunities for you.

We have compiled a list here for you on our website. Check it out!

Chapter 3: How to ace your interview

The first thing to note is that startups operate differently from large companies. Hence, you need to display certain characteristics that will convince them you are the right person for the job. These are some of the characteristics they generally look out for:

  • Ability to multi-task – Expect to assume different and many responsibilities at a start-up. Hence, the ability to juggle different tasks would come in handy.
  • Can-do attitude – No matter how daunting the task, you have to get it done – by hook or by crook.
  • Ability to work with vague instructions – Unlike larger companies who have standard operating procedures in place for many processes, startups have none of those. Tasks will be thrown at you but you will not be told how to do it because no one knows. You need to be able to figure out a way to get it done – yourself.
  • Grit – Expect to make mistakes. The important thing, however, is your mentality. You need to be able to pick yourself up after each setback, learn from it fast and move forward.

During your interview, attempt to raise examples of how you have displayed these characteristics in the past.

Secondly, do not try to be overly pretentious. Startups are also looking for culture fit. If your outlook don’t align with theirs, it would be difficult and tormenting to work together. Hence, try to let your genuine personality shine through and give both parties a chance to find out if you are suitable for one another.

Next, display your hunger and drive to succeed. Startups are always on the lookout for hungry and driven people because of one simple reason – you can teach knowledge but you can’t teach drive or hunger. Some tangible indicators of those are:

  • The things you do during your free time (E.g. do you watch Korean dramas or do you read books)
  • The kind of books you are reading (E.g. are you reading love stories or are you reading biographies of successful people)

Lastly, have clarity on what roles you would like to perform at the startup. Do not settle for anything. Before the interview, ask yourself honestly.

  • What do you want to achieve during your internship?
  • How would you like your resume to look like at the end of your internship?
  • What kind of projects do you want to be involved?

During the interview, sound out your requests. Make it clear to the company that you want the experience to be mutually beneficial. Let them know what you would like to achieve and how you would like to be involved.

Make it a point to research about their startup and find out about their needs. If you are unsure, ask the interviewers about where they might need help. Goodwill should flow both ways.

In summary, to ace your interview, you may try the following:

  • Display the following characteristics: ability to multi-task, can-do attitude, ability to work with vague instructions and grit
  • Do not be overly pretentious
  • Show your hunger and drive
  • Have clarity on your potential roles

Chapter 4: How to ace your internship

Doing well in your internship would be valuable for you. There are many tangible and intangible benefits to it such as referral letters from your superiors or the learning and growth that you receive. But how do you do well in the first place? The most important element is your mindset. If you have the correct mindset, the rest would fall in place naturally. Here is the following mindset you may want to adopt:

  1. Do not treat yourself as an intern
    1. In a few years, you will grow up and you will no longer be an intern. Start challenging yourself by assuming responsibilities of a full-time staff now. When you encounter problems, find a way to solve it. When you encounter setbacks, pick yourself up and move forward. Never tell yourself, “I am just an intern.”
  2. What you give is what you get
    1. When you give 100 per cent in your work, you will gain 100 per cent knowledge and experience in return. Hence, if you want the best learning experience, you have to give your best in your work.
  3. Do not be calculative
    1. Never say, “I paid X amount so I should just do X amount of work.” You can never put a price tag to learning. Be willing to go the extra mile and do a little more. The knowledge and experience that you gain will be valuable.

Chapter 5: Conclusion

At the end of your internship, do not forget to conduct a post-mortem. Find out what you have done well and what you could have done better. Think about the high and lows of your internship journey and try to turn into a narrative. This is important so you can share with your peers or your future interviewers about your internship experience in a clear and concise fashion.

Hopefully, your internship has given you much more clarity on your future plans. With that in mind, work and improve your skill sets and prepare yourself for your next journey!

In summary, here are the things you may want to do after the end of your internship:

  • Conduct a post-mortem
  • Turn your journey into a narrative
  • Work and improve your skill sets

We hope that this guide has been helpful for you and all the best in your startup journey!